There’s a small village deep in the middle of France. Last I saw the place, the population sign read 121. The sign was old and out of date. The village had burgeoned to a whopping 171 as of the 2015 census. Nobody would know about Taizé if it weren’t for a group of monks on the top of the hill above the town. Apart from the monastic community, the most notable thing in the region just might be the snails.
All through the year, people pilgrimage to Taizé to relive the Passion Week. The people, the largest percentage of them youth, arrive on Sunday afternoon, and stay until the following Sunday morning. Through disciplines of prayer, meditation, and chanting they enter into the spiritual rhythm of Taizé and walk through the Passion Week from the Triumphal Entry to the Resurrection. During the summer, youth and adults from all over the globe visit the community – as many as 15,000 at a time during the peak weeks.
For the Taizé community, Easter is a year-round experience. For most of us, Easter is a passing day on the calendar falling around the Spring Break. If we should feel spiritual, we might send “He is Risen” notices to our friends. If we are feeling especially devout, we will go to church from Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday and follow the rhythms of our church tradition. If we are the kind of person who is moved deeply by our love for Christ and the stories found in the calendar of our faith, we may have been at this work of devotion for forty days previous and will continue our prayerfulness through Pentecost.
On this Easter morning, I’ve been wondering what it might look like if we lived like the monks at Taizé. What if the rhythms of death, burial and resurrection and all that it means to us were part of our life through the entirety of the year? What kind of people might we become? How would it influence our decisions in life, and our passion for mission?
TGIF: the rhythm of the average person
I doesn’t feel like mere coincidence that the day most people look forward to celebrating each week is Friday – the day of crucifixion and death. For many people, the rhythm of this celebration has become a pattern of living from party to party. “Thank God it’s Friday,” has become the mantra of addictions and one-night stands for part of the population, and a simple relief from an overworked life for others. Too often, it is the standard by which we mark the dreams of our lives. We imagine vacations to far away places, or escapes to adventurous events. Some of us just want to sleep, because the schedule of our lives is wearing us out. And yes, we need a rest from the relentless drive of our dog eat dog world.
I believe the rest and celebration we need most can be found in something different than the Friday-to-Friday rhythm of rest-to-rest, or party-to-party. There is a rest and there is a celebration in the Passion Week, and it can take our lives to new places, if we seek it’s meaning and it’s power in our own lives all through the year. The rhythm of death, burial and resurrection will help you get rid of the things that hinder you, and help you rise each day to new life.
May this Easter last the rest of your life.